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Archive: Issue No. 45, May 2001

Go to the current edition for SA art News, Reviews & Listings.


22.05.01 'The Short Century' opens in Berlin
22.05.01 'new ideas - old tricks' in Dortmund, Germany
15.05.01 Important show for Candice Breitz in Austria
15.05.01 Kendell Geers at the 2nd Berlin Biennale
01.05.01 'Juncture' at Studio Voltaire, London
24.04.01 Strijdom van der Merwe in Belgium
24.04.01 Willie Bester in Brussels
10.04.01 'in the meantime...' in Amsterdam
27.03.01 'Short Stories' in Milan
United States
15.05.01 After the Diagram' in New York

Pascale Marthine Tayou

Pascale Marthine Tayou
3 Cameroon Embassy, 1998

Moshekwa Langa

Moshekwa Langa
Untitled, 1996


'The Short Century' opens in Berlin

Now on the second leg of its tour, the exhibition 'The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945-1994' is being hosted by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures) in Berlin, and will be showing at the spacious Martin-Gropius-Bau from May 18 to July 29 2001.

The exhibition, first seen at the Villa Stuck in Munich and scheduled to continue to major venues in the United States, was curated by Okwui Enwezor, artistic director of Documenta 11. With this exhibition, Enwezor encompasses the many faces of African Modernism and redefines Africa's place in the annals of 20th century history. 'The Short Century' documents the history of Africa since its partition in 1884/85 during the Berlin Conference, and thus focuses on the second half of the century, a period which began with the liberation from colonialism of certain countries and ended with the first democratic election following the abolition of apartheid in South Africa in 1994.

The interdisciplinary approach of the exhibition links historical documents with contemporary artistic standpoints, and confronts the creations of colonial and anti-colonial propaganda - film and photography, but also poster art, print media and textiles - from both private collections and government archives. This exhibition means that unique examples of regional artistic currents, from the Egyptian awakening to South African resistance art, can now be seen in Germany for the first time. Architecture and town planning are shown here as an expression of a new, collective self-confidence manifest in the young African states.

The exhibits show personal and collective self-representations of an Africa undergoing urbanisation which is in constant dialogue with the major cities of Europe and North America - many of the continent's leading artists and intellectuals live permanently abroad. Official representations of history are reframed by private pieces of memorabilia: family albums, shrines to memory, memoirs, fashions in dress and popular music take their place alongside traditional art and revolutionary kitsch.

Opening: May 18
Closing: July 29

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures), John-Foster-Dulles Allee 10, D-10557 Berlin, Germany
Tel: +49-30-397 87 0
Fax: +49-30-394 86 79

Malcolm Payne

Malcolm Payne
10 Canons of Stupidity
Video installation

'new ideas - old tricks' opens in Dortmund

"Innovation, technological competence and 'global playing' are acknowledged as the armour necessary for the fight for survival in the 21st century. The old myths of progress with smart new outfits promise the unstoppable emergence of tomorrow's world - a world which apparently offers a boundless individual playing ground for all who behave appropriately. The motto: Eat or be eaten!

"However it is undeniable that this global progressivity is deeply interwined with the historically known structures of violence, exploitation and exclusion. Old content in new packaging? Business as usual?

"The exhibition 'new ideas - old tricks' presents critical and/or ironical artistic reflections on strategies of resistance and of divergence in contemporary art in the context of a 'glamorous' future and a 'dark' past" - curatorial statement.

The international cast of artists consists of Daniel Garca Andjar, Peter Brosens, Camera Austria, Catherine Chalmers, Harun Farocki, Romuald Karmakar, Bettina Lockemann and Elisabeth Neudrfl, Cape Town based Malcolm Payne, Dan Perjovschi and Jorg Schlick.

Among the works on show, Catherine Chalmers uses the cool aesthetics of lifestyle magazines to underline the principles of merciless competition in her photo series Food Chain. Daniel G Andjar's Phoney programme offers the internet user ways of interaction which forces the viewer to take up the decision of using communication technologies legally or illegally as a tool or as a weapon.

In his video installation 10 Canons of Stupidity, Malcolm Payne creates a contradictory picture of South African cultural identity interspersed with the crisis of Western intellectual culture. The suggestive film of an African ritual is criss-crossed, among other things, with images of political icons and South African daily realities as well as passages out of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations.

Opening: May 11
Closing: July 01

hARTware Projekte, Guentherstrasse 65, Dortmund, Germany
Gallery hours: Tues - Fri: 4pm - 11pm; Sat - Sun: 2pm - 11pm
Tel/fax: +49 (0)231 88 20 240

Candice Breitz

Candice Breitz
Four Duets, 2000
Video installation

Candice Breitz

Candice Breitz
Rainbow Seriew, 1996

Important show for Candice Breitz in Austria

Linz in Austria is one of the foremost centres for digital and new media art in Europe, and it is here, at the OK Center for Contemporary Art, that the first comprehensive exhibition showcasing the multimedia work of the New York based, South African born Candice Breitz opened on May 9.

Breitz has been exhibiting internationally since 1996, when she first gained wide recognition for the Rainbow Series, a group of photomontages that combine crudely cut-out and sometimes mutilated fragments of the bodies of black and white women in an exploration of the removal of human values and the blurring of identity when women are treated as pornographic or postcard images. Breitz's practice then, and in subsequent series, has been to recontextualise images that she has isolated from the existing cultural and media landscape. Found images and extracts of footage - from National Geographic to Hustler, Hollywood movies to M-TV - are momentarily cut away from their usual environments, then concisely edited and reconfigured.

Complex questions of identity formation and representation are at the core of the earlier photographic works, leading to the more recent video installations which increasingly pursue Breitz's interest in what she has called "the scripted life", and in which the artist turns her editing impulses towards critical interpretations of the codes and icons of pop culture and the entertainment industry.

Breitz's work effectively reintroduces us to familiar movies, pop stars and love songs, inviting the viewer to revisit terrain in which public and private memory implode into one another. Photographic excerpts, filmic sequences and linguistic moments are extracted from the confines of linear narrative and predictability, then reassembled in such a way that they now offer themselves to the viewer as filters through which to reconsider the context from which they were originally captured. Speech is cut up into split-second syllables and sentences are sucked out of dialogues, pushing language to the edge of comprehensibility. Multi-channel installations like the Babel Series and Karaoke poignantly dramatise the extent to which we are formed by the language that mediates and maps our daily experience, evoking the fundamental and sometimes ominous ways in which the vocabulary of the mainstream media determines and regulates our relationships to each other and to ourselves.

In Four Duets (2000), for example, four sentimental love songs are given the Breitz treatment. Each duet consists of two monitors which face each other: on the first monitor of Double Karen, Karen Carpenter mouths endlessly the words "me me me", while on a second facing monitor, another loop edited from the same song plays out Carpenter's melancholic longing for the other, as she croons "you you you". In Group Portraits, Breitz whitens out the very items which the advertisement is attempting to sell, thus subverting the togetherness which use of the product seems to imply, and suggesting perhaps that insatiable consumerism is the new lingua franca of the global village.

Opening: May 10
Closing: July 15

OK Center for Contemporary Art, Dametzstrasse 30, A-4020 Linz, Austria

Breitz is simultaneously exhibiting the 10-channel video installation 'Karaoke' on the inaugural show of the New York Center for Media Arts. The group exhibition, titled 'Electronic Maple: Human Language and Digital Culture in Contemporary Art ', brings together artists from America, Asia and Europe who address the relationship between art and technology through diverse media including video, laser, internet installation and electronic music performance. Exhibiting alongside Breitz are Mat Collishaw, Thomas Bolt and Sebastian Currier, Masaki Fujihata, Soo Cheon Jheon, Eduardo Kac, Tony Oursler and Nam June Paik.

NY Center for Media Arts, 45-12 Davis Street, Long Island City, NY 11101
Email: or

Kendell Geers

Kendell Geers
Medusa Dreaming, 1999
Video installation

Kendell Geers

Kendell Geers
Medusa Dreaming, (detail) 1999
Video installation

Photos: Universes in Universe

Kendell Geers at the 2nd Berlin Biennale

Kendell Geers is the only South African artist exhibiting at the 2nd Berlin Biennale, which opened on April 20. Curated by Saskia Bos, director of the De Appel Foundation in Amsterdam, the Biennale presents work by 49 artists from 31 countries. Apart from Geers, the only other artist to hail from the African continent is Pascale Marthine Tayou of Cameroon.

A press release cites Bos's curatorial approach as focusing "on artists and works of art which connect to the other, to the viewer, or engage in issues that have a social or participatory character. Concern, contribution, connectedness with the world outside are explored in the show, as well as an awareness and critique of the art system with all its layers, its codes and self-referentiality." A two-volume catalogue in English and German accompanies the exhibition.

A virtual tour of the Biennale courtesy of the Universes in Universe website reveals Geers to be exhibiting the video installation Medusa Dreaming (1999) at the Viaduct Jannowitzbrücke. At the same venue are Carlos Amorales of Mexico, British artist Fiona Banner, David Claerbout, Little Warsaw (András Gálik and Bálint Havas) and Henrik Häkansson.

Earlier this year Geers - who, according to a CV on the Biennale website, now divides his time between London and Leipzig - held a solo show titled 'Televisionaries' at the Wurttembergischer Kunstverein in Stuttgart.

Opening: April 20
Closing: June 20


Moshekwa Langa

Moshekwa Langa
The Mountains of my Youth - A Novel
Red lino, fax paper, cotton reels
Installation view at The Granary

Harold Offeh

Harold Offeh
Alien Communication
Video still

'Juncture' at Studio Voltaire, London

'Juncture', the exhibition of work by nine young artists which received excellent notices when it showed at Cape Town's The Granary in February this year, opens to the public at one of London's hottest new art venues, Studio Voltaire, on May 11. At the private view the night before, South African Vita Award finalist Robin Rhode will give a performance.

Co-curated by young South African artists working in London, Robyn Denny and Frances Goodman, both of whom also participate in the show, the lineup consists otherwise of Don Bury, Moshekwa Lange, Harold Offeh, Ben Pruskin, Berni Searle, Erika Tan and Robin Rhode.

The noun 'juncture' is defined in the dictionary as a joining; a place where things join; concurrence of events, state of affairs.

'Juncture' brings together the work of nine dynamic, contemporary International artists from a diversity of practice, positioning, and politics. The central commonality within this variation, is the investigation into notions of identity made by each artist within their own specific context. Particular emphasis is given to the gendered body, racial myths, personal phobias and urban youth culture. 'Juncture' highlights the exhibition as a meeting place/crossroads of cultural expression at a particular point in time. In keeping with this theme the exhibition will span two continents, showing in both Cape Town (The Granary) and London (Studio Voltaire) and will seek to instigate a debate on the repositioning of South African artists within an international context and to facilitate a creative dialogue between Cape Town and London. The work on show comprises a selection of contemporary visual art including video projections, sound works, digital prints, performance and installation.

The exhibition is accompanied by a full colour catalogue, which includes a critical essay by Jacqui Nolte, as well as a statement, by each artist.

Opening: Thursday, May 10, 6pm - 9pm; Performance by Robin Rhode, 7.30pm
Closing: May 26

Studio Voltaire, 1a Nelson's Row, Clapham Common, London, SW4
Transport: Clapham Common Underground, 2 minutes. walk
Contact Details: Frances 0793 9535415, Robyn 0207 3520588
Gallery hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 11am - 7pm

Strijdom van der Merwe

Strijdom van der Merwe

Strijdom van der Merwe in Belgium

The Artist in Nature movement, whose members attempt to unify art and nature, will hold an arts event in Belgium under the title 'F�te de Mai' (May Festival) between April and July this year. Similar events have been held in France, Korea, the Dominican Republic and Quebec in Canada.

South African land artist Strijdom van der Merwe, whose entry for the event has been accepted, will be one of twelve artists, selected from entries world wide, to participate. In September last year, Van der Merwe was invited to create a sculpture for the United Nations Memorial Park in Pusan,Korea. The park commemorates the Korean War which had erupted in 1950. South Africa was one of the 21 countries who participated in the war.

The event in Belgium, which invited artists who work three dimensionally to send in entries, strives to create opportunities for artists "where they can escape from the narrow circle of merchants, art critics and -institutions and open up a direct relationship between artists and communities". The movement also aims at making contemporary art accessible to rural populations. They believe that the public work of art, specifically made on site, is more powerful than work that merely uses a site as exhibition space.

The event will take place in the south of Belgium in the province of Namur in the Walloon region. Works of art will be created in viewing distance from a newly constructed hiking-, cycling- and horse trial, connecting six villages. The trail runs through 6000 hectares of hilly forest and farming land. Artists will reside with a host family who will not only assist them in collecting and transporting their material, but will also introduce them to the Belgian culture.

It is expected from the artists to use materials from the area, namely stone, twigs,bark, wood, iron or clay. The only other requirement was that the artwork must "be reasonably durable". It is envisaged to annually invite ten artists to create new or replace art works.

Strijdom van der Merwe will be working with pliable twigs and branches, which he will plait into three huge human figures placed on stilts,"walking" over the landscape. He calls the sculpture Migration. Sculptures will remain in the landscape as long as they are "meaningful", thereafter "the site will be given back to nature". The artist will be working on the project from April 28 to May 14.

For more info on the Fête de Mai:
Or phone Strijdom van der Merwe at 021 88 66496.

Willie Bester

Willie Bester
Untitled, 2000
Mixed media on board
62.5 x 141 x 8.5cm

Willie Bester in Brussels

Internationally known Cape Town painter and sculptor Willie Bester is exhibiting at the Centre d'Art Contemporain in Brussels. Opening: April 26
Closing: June 09

Centre d'Art Contemporain, Avenue des Nerviens 63, 1040 Brussels
Tel: 02 735 05 31
Gallery hours: Monday to Friday: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.; Saturdays: 1 to 6 p.m.


Tracey Rose
Video still

'in the meantime...' at De Appel in Amsterdam

The exhibition 'in the meantime ...', put together by the Curatorial Training Programme of the De Appel in Amsterdam, presents videos, installations and photography by Mark Bain, Yael Bartana, Sebastiín Díaz Morales, Angela Ferreira, Ksenia Galiaeva, Tracey Rose, Bülent Sangar and Jun Yang, eight artists focusing on narratives of site and movement.

All art works are derived from a particular situation and consciousness, extracting observations and private histories from the artists' archive of personal experiences. This consciousness prompts the artists to deal with the political, the geographical and the everyday in a non-didactic way. No conclusions are drawn, however. Rather than a single obvious reading, several readings are available. A constant oscillation between reality and fiction, fiction and documentary, the communal and the private realm of the individual is offered.

An exhibition catalogue and website ( accompany the exhibition.

Opening: April 6 at 6pm
Closing: May 27

De Appel, Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 10, 1017 DE Amsterdam
Tel: 020 625 5651
Fax: 020 622 5215

Minnette Vari

Minnette Vari
Mirage, 1999
Video Animation

'Short Stories' opens in Milan

Curated by Roberto Pinto and a curatorial team comprised of Vasif Kortun, Apinan Poshyananda, Anne Pasternak and Eugenio Valdes Figueroa, an exhibition entitled 'Short Stories' opens in in La Fabbrica del Vapore on March 28.

No less than 27 artists will be participating, including Fernando Arias Gaviria, Tania Bruguera, Alison Cornyn & Sue Johnson, Nick Crowe, and South African artists Kendell Geers and Minnette Vari.

Opening: March 28

La Fabbrica del Vapore, Milan

After the Diagram

Siemon Allen

Siemon Allen
Elegy, 2001
Woven magnetic tape and steel
274 x 488 x 7.5cm


'After the Diagram' in New York

At the White Box in New York's trendy Chelsea art district over on the West Side, Lauri Firstenberg and Douglas Cooper have curated an exhibition entitled 'After the Diagram', which opened on April 26 and runs until the beginning of June. Participating artists are South Africans Kim Lieberman and Siemon Allen, exhibiting alongside Diller and Scofidio, David Rokeby, Atom Egoyan, Douglas Cooper, Michael Rashkow, Melissa Gould, Michael Queenland, Alex Arcadia, Jonah Freeman and Wade Guyton.

"The diagram collapses the dichotomy between representation and abstraction: it always has ties to the real, and it is always abstract. 'After the Diagram' is an examination of various ways in which contemporary artists and architects involve disparate strategies to detonate the conventions of the diagram itself," explains the curatorial statement.

The diagram has largely been identified with the perfect line: the hard-edged perfection of the draftsman. Diller and Scofidio, experimental architects, are in the midst of designing a building which itself has soft edges - the Blur Building, which will be the signature pavilion for the next World Fair. The Blur Building sits in the center of a Swiss lake and emanates fog: it is building as cloud. The work is represented by preparatory drawings which themselves diffuse the hardness of the architectural line.

Kim Lieberman's sewn pages of postal stamps regender and quiet the grid. Known for her lush jeweled tone compositions, Lieberman here presents a white on white work, the silken squares of thread gleaming softly against the perforated grid of the white paper background. Alongside the work hangs a list of the sites of sewing.

Siemon Allen's Elegy is a vast rectangle of woven magnetic tape which seems at a short distance to be a minimalist and overall black, yet upon closer inspection reveals the delineated grid of its construction. "For the woven panel, I have moved away from VHS video tape [used, for instance, for Allen's Johannesburg Biennale screen] and have decided to work with one inch magnetic tape, computer storage data tape from the late 1970s and early 1980s," says Allen. "Like the previous videotape works there is still in operation the idea of a material taken from the world of technology that is contradicted through its use as raw stuff in a physically laborious process. As well as the use again of something that is the carrier of encoded information that has been rendered mute."

Melissa Gould (Mego) produces installations and proposed monuments centring around both personal and historical memory and artefacts, often existing only in the form of diagrams and by reinterpreting plans of structures into reinvented renderings. Mego's lithographic map entitled Neu-York, 2000, revises a Manhattan map of 1939, inserting contemporaneous sites of Berlin into a fantastical rendition of mapping "psychological transport, place, displacement, and memory". The artist posits a retroactive look or, rather, a projection of a nonsensical, ahistorical context of New York gone Third Reich in an obsessional invented system of naming.

Opening: April 16
Closing: June 02

White Box, 525 West 26th Street, New York, New York 10001
Tel: (212) 714 2347
Gallery hours: Noon to 6pm, Tuesday to Saturday